Phillips, Wendell

Life Span
    Full name
    Wendell Phillips
    Place of Birth
    Burial Place
    Birth Date Certainty
    Death Date Certainty
    Sectional choice
    Free State
    John Phillips (father), Sarah Walley (mother)
    Attorney or Judge
    Other Occupation
    Relation to Slavery
    White non-slaveholder
    Other Affiliations
    Abolitionists (Anti-Slavery Society)
    Women’s Rights
    Workingmen’s or Labor

    Wendell Phillips, Abolition and the Civil War (American National Biography)

    In the years immediately before the Civil War Phillips's oratory, not his labors for the American Anti-Slavery Society, defined his greatest significance. As the sectional crisis ran its course, he fashioned speeches that dramatized the moral imperative facing the North: people must confront the South and destroy slavery. Collected in books and widely reprinted in newspapers, Phillips's speeches, particularly those urging defiance of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, supporting free-soil struggles in Kansas, and praising John Brown's invasion of Harpers Ferry, gave Yankee political culture a strain of egalitarian extremism that presaged a war for slave emancipation.

    The onset of the war itself magnified Phillips's stature and influence as "abolition's golden trumpet." Discarding his disunionism, he declared secession to be treason and demanded war aims that would free the slaves, cede them their former masters' lands, grant them full civil rights, furnish them with free public education, and guarantee them full manhood suffrage. Joining other Radical Republicans, Phillips grew increasingly critical of President Abraham Lincoln's reluctance to prosecute a forthright war of slave liberation, a posture that put him much at odds with Garrison and many other Lincoln supporters within the American Anti-Slavery Society.
    James Brewer Stewart, "Phillips, Wendell," American National Biography Online, February 2000,

    Wendell Phillips, Reconstruction (American National Biography)

    The Garrisonians, moreover, did not share Phillips's vision of a radically reconstructed South, and debates over these questions finally fractured the abolitionist movement. After the passage in 1865 of the Thirteenth Amendment, freeing all slaves, Garrison and his supporters declared the abolitionists' crusade a success, retired, and left Phillips as president of a much depleted American Anti-Slavery Society. For the next five years, until the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, Phillips put nearly all of his energies into the struggle for black equality, speaking and writing on the imperative of guaranteeing former slaves the full rights and the protections of citizenship. With the passage of that amendment, Phillips finally conceded that there was little else he could do to help secure the future of African Americans living in the old Confederacy.
    James Brewer Stewart, "Phillips, Wendell," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
    Date Title
    Boston (MA) Herald, "The Fugitive Slave Case," October 10, 1855
    Washington (DC) National Era, “A Mistake,” August 13, 1857
    Thomas Garrett to William Still, November 14, 1857
    Boston (MA) Liberator, "Anti-Slavery Celebration of Independence Day," June 25, 1858
    Hartford (CT) Courant, “Untitled,” December 5, 1859
    New York Times, “The Trial of Stevens,” January 4, 1860
    New York Herald, "The Underground Railroad and Its Victims," January 5, 1860
    Boston (MA) Herald, “A Conflict of the Races in Canada,” January 23, 1860
    New York Times, “The Senatorial Inquisition,” February 11, 1860
    New York Times, “Newspapers without Labels,” March 22, 1860
    William Wilkins to James Watson Webb, March 26, 1860
    New York Times, “The Charleston Convention,” May 1, 1860
    (Jackson) Mississippian, “The Fourth at John Brown’s Home,” June 20, 1860
    New York Herald, “Massachusetts Thoroughly Abolitionized,” September 7, 1860
    New York Herald, “Helper and His Black Republican Endorsers,” October 28, 1860
    Charlestown (VA) Free Press, “John Brown Anniversary,” December 13, 1860
    New York Herald, “Free Love and Passional Attraction in the New Administration,” February 13, 1861
    New York Herald, “Honor to Abolitionism Pure and Simple,” March 24, 1861
    New York Times, “Slave Insurrections,” April 12, 1861
    Chillicothe (OH) Scioto Gazette, “Disgraceful Fraud,” October 29, 1861
    New York National Anti-Slavery Standard, "Speech of Rev. M.D. Conway," August 9, 1862
    Andrew Johnson, Speech before Washington's Birthday Meeting, Washington, D.C., February 22, 1866
    Chicago Style Entry Link
    Phillips, Wendell. Shall Women Have the Right to Vote? Address by Wendell Phillips at Worcester, Mass, 1851. Philadelphia: Equal Franchise Society of Philadelphia, 1910. view record
    How to Cite This Page: "Phillips, Wendell," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,